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High School Students Get a Jump on Their Future

November 2019
  • High school students are introduced to early college classes at QCC.
    High school students are introduced to early college classes at QCC. The students are taking a college information technology course for credit.

It’s 10 minutes after class yet not one of the 14 high school students in the class are making any attempt to leave.  This is not just any class, it’s an early college course at Quinsigamond Community College, “Introduction to Information Technologies,” taught by instructor Robert “Bob” Knox. During this particular class, students were cataloging pieces of music, while listening to music as they worked. 

The students are juniors and seniors from a variety of Worcester public schools who are taking part in QCC’s Early College Program. The program enables high school students to take college courses for college credit. This program gives students a chance to experience college ahead of time, with the goal of having them enroll in college after they graduate from high school. Students can earn up 12 college credits while simultaneously attending high school.

“This is my first experience with the Early College students, but I can assure you it is unusual to have 90 percent of a class engrossed to a level where they were not on their phones and not watching the clock, but were actually more concerned with the project and working together to complete it,” Mr. Knox said.

According to Mr. Knox, the students are encouraged to collaborate in class and they do so without prompting or guidance from him. The open lab time becomes one of animated conversation followed by total silence with the exception of the sounds of typing on computer keyboards.

Doherty High School Junior Joel Nanakobi said this was the first early college course he has taken at QCC.

“I really like this class. I was nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect. It opened my eyes to technology and I think I want to go into the business world now either in finance or computer science,” he said.

Junior Jerimiah Brown is from Claremont Academy. This was also his first time being in an early college course. He said he is enjoying the class and finds it fun, as well as challenging.

“It’s hands-on and we get to work to help others learn, and we learn from each other,” he said. “It’s very different from high school.”

Burncoat High School junior Maria Bahnan is interested in majoring in some type of technology, possibly engineering or architecture when she graduates high school. Her goal is to attend QCC for two years then transfer to UMass Amherst. This was her first experience taking an early college course.

“I really like it. This is very organized compared to my high school classes. I like the project… it gets your brain juices going,” she said.  

The students all discussed the benefits of being ahead of their contemporaries by taking college classes while they were still in high school.

Amin Badmos, a junior from Burncoat High School is taking his second early college class at QCC. He had taken his first one, a statistics class, over the summer for college credit.

“These classes give you an edge over the other high school students and you don’t have to take the AP test (if you are taking AP classes),” he said.  “It’s a different environment (at QCC). When I took my statistics course the professor said he was not going to teach us like high school students.There is more respect.”

Worcester Technical High School junior Philipo Ntibazokiza is someone who has taken full advantage of the early college program. He has already taken a few early college classes and said it makes such a difference to take classes you are interested in, unlike much of high school.

“When you like something you pay better attention and you learn more,” he said.